My eyes were glued to the thin, red, ticking hand of the clock as I waited for the bell to ring. I was sitting in my third period English class, stomach rumbling, ready to head off to lunch.
“Corona canceled school for the next four weeks!” shouted a girl from the back of the class.
To be honest, I was excited. I, like most high school students, was drowning in piles of homework and tests, and I just wanted an escape.
Upon hearing the news, I rushed through the crowds of students to meet my friends. I walked past the pale pink petals that coated the cherry blossom trees, through the library covered in the colorful and captivating student art, and I did not even take a second look at the picturesque quad that was covered with students discussing the recent turn of events.
I sat down in a shady spot on the grass, my friends already grouped in a circle chatting about the strange world we live in. But per usual, lunch passed by in the blink of an eye, not giving me time to take in the last time I would be seeing any of my friends — or anyone outside of my family — for months.
I hurried off to my last two classes, barely paying attention to a word the teachers were saying, and left school for what I thought would be four short weeks.
However, as the pandemic progressed, those four weeks turned into the rest of the school year, and the rest of the school year seems to be slowly turning into the rest of 2020. As the end of the shelter-in-place order moves further and further away with an indefinite end, I can not help but dream of the final day of quarantine more and more.
It is the small things that I miss. The things that I did not fully appreciate until they were gone, like taking the time to pet dogs on the street. When I go on my daily walk and cross paths with energetic, joyful, fluffy, little dogs, it pains me to walk across the street, and not be able to come close enough to even ask if I can pet them.
When COVID-19 is a thing of the past, I will never take going to the beach with my friends, eating at restaurants or watching movies in a theater for granted.
The haunting memory of a global pandemic will always be in the back of our minds.
After quarantine, I will be able to actually see my friends, and I mean more than just their head and shoulders trapped within a 2-inch box on a black screen. A rectangular neon green outline will not define who is speaking and a 40-minute timer will not determine how long we can chat.
But following this experience, venturing out of the house will not be the same as before. The haunting memory of a pandemic will always be in the back of our minds.
When sitting down at a restaurant, I will be thinking about who sat there last. Were they sick? Did they contract an incredibly infectious virus that could spread across the entire world? How do I know that the people sitting next to me do not have the virus? Maybe I should scoot my chair 6 feet away from them. Just in case.
The world will not return back to normal at the flip of a switch. Although the rules that confine people to their homes and keep restaurants closed will slowly be lifted, the society we will live in will be a far cry from what it once was.
It is hard to remember a time before the shelter-in-place order, before leaving your house was considered a dangerous endeavor. But I think we all must remember there will be an end to this, leaving everyone with a greater appreciation for what was once taken away.